Oh, look at that: it’s Valentine’s Day! I literally forgot about that, even though for the first time ever I just released a book that more or less qualifies as a romance.
There are several basic tropes I particularly like in romances. One of them (I’m sure this won’t surprise you) is The Marriage of Convenience. Here’s a post at Smart Bitches Trashy Books which collects a zillion romances that utilize this trope, from paranormals through historicals to contemporary romances.
Here are a couple of titles that caught my eye:
As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people North with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch.
I fear disappointment! Because I’m going to feel like this should be a lot like Hambly’s Benjamin January series, and when it no doubt proves different, I may not appreciate the difference. But this is a wonderful concept, and plainly has a lot more magic than the January series. It doesn’t sound much like a marriage-of-convenience romance, but it’s on this list, so we’ll see. Picking up a sample now.
Also this one, which looks much lighter in every respect:
Georgiana Bridgerton isn’t against the idea of marriage. She’d just thought she’d have some say in the matter. But with her reputation hanging by a thread after she’s abducted for her dowry, Georgie is given two options: live out her life as a spinster or marry the rogue who has ruined her life. Enter Option #3 As the fourth son of an earl, Nicholas Rokesby is prepared to chart his own course. He has a life in Edinburgh, where he’s close to completing his medical studies, and he has no time—or interest—to find a wife. But when he discovers that Georgie Bridgerton—his literal girl-next-door—is facing ruin, he knows what he must do.
That’s a classic sort of plot, and a good one. I do like a male lead who’s a doctor or something similar instead of a duke.
That comment — about doctors — makes me think of this one that isn’t from the linked post:
I enjoyed this one; it’s not exactly believable, but nicely told as long as you don’t object to certain tendency toward helpful coincidences.
While on the subject of Carla Kelly, didn’t she write a romance where the main characters were a maid and a butler? This is another marriage of convenience: they wanted to apply for positions in a household where the butler was expected to be married. The female lead gets fired from her previous job for eating a couple of raisins while baking, a detail that has stuck with me because really, raisins? So she needs another job, and she’s at least met this guy, and there we go, a marriage of convenience. I’ve read it a couple of times and like it, but the book seems to have vanished from my library and I can’t remember the title. If that sounds familiar to any of you, what was the title of that book?
I read this one a couple of years ago and like it a lot. It’s actually a good choice right now if you’d like a very, very slow-burn historical romance with low tension. I don’t think I’m giving much away to say that things work out; I mean, it IS a romance. Here’s my review from 2019. I may start re-reading it; I think a calm, slow-paced romance re-read may be something I’m in the mood for.
And, of course, if you haven’t read it yet:
I mean, marriage of convenience, fits right in.
I feel like there are various marriages-of-convenience in SFF that I ought to be remembering. Not paranormals — secondary world or historical fantasy or both. I can’t think of them right now. If any titles occur to any of you, please drop them in the comments!